Confused! SBB ticket prices and Swiss Rail Pass

Confused! SBB ticket prices and Swiss Rail Pass

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jalessaga
jalessaga
9 posts
new member
Mar 31, 2018 - 3:39 PM

Hi,

I am a 20 year old student from the US and will be traveling to Switzerland with my friend who is 21 years old. We are planning our trip from Bern through the Berner Oberland and then possibly into Ascona. I will be in Switzerland for a total of 13 days.

I land in Zurich on May 23 at 1 PM. I will need to get to Thun, which is where I am staying that night. I am staying three nights in Thun, and want to be able to take public transport to Bern and perhaps other nearby places. My friend will arrive either in Zurich or Bern on Saturday May 26.

From there we want to travel through the Berner Oberland, stopping in different towns and villages (Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald) for a night or few, and continuing on to Ascona, perhaps Locarno and/or Lugano. Or we are trying to figure out another way to get into the Italian part of Switzerland. If there is time we want to go into Italy for a little bit, but we aren't sure what the best way to do that is. After that, we need to get back to Zurich.

My inquiry is about train and transportation and whether we should get a (2nd class) Swiss Rail Pass, a Half Fare Card, or buy normal individual tickets. We are students and are looking to do the cheapest option possible, however time is money, and if the prices are close, then the efficiency and flexibility of a Rail Pass would be worth it.

I have done a lot of reading, and know that the only way to be sure about the comparison is to calculate it. I downloaded the spreadsheet template provided on this site. However, I don't understand how individual tickets work. I am confused because based on where I look, prices for individual tickets are vastly different.

When I looked on Trainline, a ticket from Thun to Interlaken is $22.19.

When I looked on SBB.ch a ticket from Thun to Interlaken is 2.80 CHF ($2.93) – and it's also faster(!?). Some other tickets were even greater price difference. Using these ticket prices, it would be VASTLY cheaper to buy individual tickets. However, going from the Trainline, it would seem to be better to get a Swiss Rail Pass. Could someone please explain to me why these ticket prices are so vastly different, and what search website or prices I should use to calculate the individual ticket prices in order to compare to getting a Rail Pass?

Another question I had, is if we get the Rail Pass, can we put two people on one pass, or should we get separate passes? I'm also not sure about the continuous vs. flexipass. It seems that an 8 day pass of one kind would be the best option? (15 days is very expensive.)

Any information or advice or opinions would be very appreciated. Thank you so much!

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Lisadee
Lisadee
73 posts
active member
Mar 31, 2018 - 6:40 PM in reply to jalessaga

Hello I have zero knowledge compared to everyone here but I just went through 3 weeks of confusion helping. my 24 year plan from rome to Switzerland. Hes staying in hostels. However I feel it was too much. If you could stay in swiss and enjoy the many places there are you see it would be the cheapest way. he will barely get to see Italy for 2 days and will be exhausted then when he gets to Switzerland, he will have 6 days and he will not be able to do everything he had on his list. I did the math every which way and the swiss travel pass is the best one. Unfortunately they only do 8 and I think 15 day. I think it would be too much to start in swiss, go to Italy then back to swiss. Good luck. all the experts on here will help you a whole lot.

rockoyster
rockoyster
3345 posts
expert
Mar 31, 2018 - 10:27 PM in reply to jalessaga

Hello jalessaga and Welcome to MySwissAlps,

You need need one pass each.

A clearly mapped out itinerary is the basis for deciding which pass (if any) suits. Based on your itinerary you need to do the sums based on the cost of all your planned trips on trains, boats, cable cars etc. You can use the Swiss Train Timetable (www.myswissalps.com/ti metable) to work out the fares for any trip. When you go to buy a ticket the fare you see on the right hand side of the page will normally be the half-fare price. Double it to get full fare. With A Swiss Travel Pass it is free provided it is shown as free on the Area of Validity map ( PDF downloadable from www.myswissalps.com/sw isstravelpass/validity).

You should read “How to choose the best travel pass” (www.myswissalps.com/tr ain/ticketspasses/prac tical/chooserailpass), download the handy spreadsheet calculator and do the math.

Use the SBB timetable for ticket prices. Train.eu gets weird for local trips.

You can get to Ascona from Locarno (broadly speaking). You can get to Locarno via Domodossola or from Lucerne via Bellinzona. Either way is fully covered by STP.

If you go from Lucerne consider the fabulous Gotthard Panorama Express (www.myswissalps.com/go tthardpanoramaexpress). It’s free with STP but you need reservations on the train - CHF24 from memory.

Don’t miss Lugano!

Happy travels.

Lucas
Lucas
5491 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 1, 2018 - 7:14 AM in reply to jalessaga

Hi jalessaga,

Yes, do use the SBB (Swiss railways) timetable for your prices. The first price you see is for half-fare card holders so you'll need to double it to get the regular fare. :)

Last modified on Apr 1, 2018 - 4:42 PM by Arno
Lisadee
Lisadee
73 posts
active member
Apr 1, 2018 - 11:45 AM in reply to jalessaga

Also, I ordered the 8 day travel pass eticket from Happyrail.com. (Make sure you select eticket) ...then set up an account, enter your info.. There is a place on the bottom of your account info where you can select euro and it will change it from chf to eur and it comes out a little cheaper. Check to make sure your credit card has no foreign transaction fees.

jalessaga
jalessaga
9 posts
new member
Apr 1, 2018 - 2:47 PM in reply to Lucas

On the timetable page on this website, where there are links to both trainline and SBB, why/ in what situation would one find the prices through trainline? I am still confused why they are so much more expensive.The ticket prices that I find through SBB assume half-fare card, so I double for normal; is that the case with every single one on SBB? It now seems like perhaps a half-fare card would be our best bet.

Thank you.

Last modified on Apr 1, 2018 - 2:48 PM by jalessaga
jalessaga
jalessaga
9 posts
new member
Apr 1, 2018 - 2:48 PM in reply to Lisadee

I'm thinking of getting a paper ticket instead of an e-ticket, in case my phone runs out of battery or won't cooperate. Is an e-ticket much better?

Lucas
Lucas
5491 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 1, 2018 - 3:32 PM in reply to jalessaga

Use the timetable on the right side for pricing - and yes the first price you see is the 1/2 fare so double it. If you select the train and go through the process of buying the ticket you can enter "no reduction" and it will show you the normal fare.

The Swiss Half Fare Card is a good option (50% off everything) but on longer trips with busy days a Swiss Travel Pass (which covers 100% of most trips) is also a good bet.

In the end you must do the math to be sure - see the link from Rockoyster for help on the math.

Arno
Arno
10333 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 1, 2018 - 4:46 PM in reply to jalessaga

Hi Jalessaga,

There are no actual e-tickets for the passes discussed here. The Swiss Travel Pass and Swiss Half Fare Card can be e-mailed to you or physically shipped. Delivery by e-mail is the best option. You're supposed to print the PDF document you will receive, so no worries about batteries. You can print as many copies as you want to have a backup if you loose or damage your printout. Also you can keep the PDF on your phone or in the cloud to print it again from there if needed. If you choose for physical delivery or a local purchase there will be no backup.

You'll find purchase options here:

Last modified on Apr 1, 2018 - 4:48 PM by Arno
Lisadee
Lisadee
73 posts
active member
Apr 2, 2018 - 12:43 AM in reply to Arno

Isn't an eticket the same as an email. I thought my nephew saud he got it via email and printed it. I didn't have two choices. It was mail or eticket.

Last modified on Apr 2, 2018 - 12:43 AM by Lisadee
rockoyster
rockoyster
3345 posts
expert
Apr 2, 2018 - 1:52 AM in reply to Lisadee

Worry not Lisa. I think there are some crossed wires. The pass you get by email, print out and carry with you. The e-ticket referred to is when you buy a ticket for a specific train trip and store it on your phone so the inspector can scan it on board.

Lisadee
Lisadee
73 posts
active member
Apr 2, 2018 - 10:24 AM in reply to rockoyster

got it. Thanks

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